The Tennessee Valley Authority Friday marked the completion of Alabama's biggest solar farm, just west of Florence, Ala.
NextEra Energy Resources, an affiliate company of Florida Power and Light, installed more than 300,000 solar panels on 645 acres of Alabama farmland to capture the sun and generate 75 megawatts of electricity, or enough power to supply 15,000 homes.facebook
The project, known as the River Bend Solar Energy Center, includes tracking equipment for the panels to adjust their pitch to capture the most sunlight each day.
"We are pleased to once again work with our valued customer, TVA, to bring additional renewables into their portfolio with this first project of its scale in Alabama," said Mike O'Sullivan, senior vice president of Development for NextEra Energy Resources, which is the owner and operator of the project. "This 75 MW solar project will provide millions in recurring tax dollars in aggregate over several decades for schools and essential services in the region and will generate cost-effective, clean, solar energy for years to come."
TVA agreed to buy the solar power under a 20-year purchase agreement and Next Era is receiving federal production tax credits for the solar generation.
Next Era estimates the solar farm will avoid approximately 105,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions that would have been produced if the electricity had been generated using fossil fuels.
"TVA never stands still, and this NextEra Energy Resources project helps us meet our commitment to provide the 9 million people of the Tennessee Valley with reliable, low-cost, carbon-free electricity," said Van Wardlaw, executive vice president of external relations for TVA. "Over the next 20 years, TVA will invest about $8 billion to support our renewable energy portfolio, and we see a bright renewable energy future for projects like this across the Tennessee Valley."
The project created about 350 jobs during the construction phase and over its operational life, the River Bend Solar Energy Center is expected to generate more than $9 million in property taxes, with the majority going to benefit the Lauderdale County School District.
NextEra Energy Resources is one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the U.S., with approximately 18,260 megawatts of generating capacity.